Education and sports administrators have been displeased by governmentâ€™s move to further puncture sporting activity among the youth of school-going age.
This after a decision was reached to bar learners from the Quthing district from participating in sports under the guise of maximizing their attention on their school work and not share it with insignificant activity such as sports.
The decision is said to have been made by the Quthing district management and communicated to the various schools in the district by the Quthing District Education Manager Moipusi Motebang who is said to have mentioned that this was to assist district schoolsâ€™ academic performance which has dropped significantly over the years compared to other districts in the end-of-year examinations results.
Mount Moorosi High School Principal Matloko Mafantiri, told this publication that they received a notice from the Quthing District Education Managerâ€™s Office saying that all schools are not allowed to take part in sports activities this year.
â€œWe received a notice towards the end of last month from the education manager office telling us the principals of schools here in the Quthing district that children are no longer allowed to participate in sports,â€ Mafantiri said.
The principal said the notification came as a shock because no consultations were made with the schools or the parents and the students who are the main stakeholders in the matter.
â€œThis was a shock to most schools because the manager has no authority to make that decision without consultations with the relevant stakeholders,â€ Mafantiri said.
Over the years, Quthing has produced some of the best talents to come out of the country such as top Olympiad female long distance runner, â€˜Neheng Khatala whom Mafantiri spoke highly of saying she is a product of the district. Khatala represented the Mountain Kingdom during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo where she competed in the womenâ€™s marathon finishing in the top 20.
â€œTop athletes such as â€˜Neheng Khatala have come from the ranks of our schools here in the district, we also have had the likes of Motlatsi Shale who went as far as playing for Bloemfontein Celtic in South Africa. While â€˜Neheng was a student at Moorosi High School, Shale was a product of Masetise high School.
â€œThere are a lot of other children whose talent we want to expose to the outside world because they have the ability and show great potential in sports. All we are saying is, sports should not be suspended because not all students will make it in life through formal education, some just need it as a foundation as they end up making a living out of their talent in sports.
â€œEven in the national teams such as Likuena, there are athletes who were students in the district some are playing in the premier league and are making a living out of sports so when we deprive children of sports we are also hampering the fight for the ever growing unemployment.
â€œIt is wrong to force kids who are talented in sports on formal education while they can focus their time and energy on sports where they see a future for their livelihoods,â€ Mafantiri explained.
During the 2021 LGCSE end of year final examination results, Quthing was number 8 in the overall performance by district with a 37.30 percent above both mokhotlong and Thaba Tseka who were on 36.29 in 9th and 34.66 in 10th place when a year before the district was on 10th place with 49.34 and in 2019 was in 9th place overall with 91.24 percent.
Meanwhile, for her part, the Secretary General of the Lesotho Institutions Sports Association (LISA) â€˜Malineo Makhang, said the association has been aware of the intention of the education manager but said they are waiting for the formal letter.
She said they had been having schools from Quthing until early this year when they hosted the athletics and later on the first round of Ballgames on the 21 April despite the warnings that the manager intended to barer them from competing.
â€œWe are very much aware of the intention according to the LISA secretary in Quthing, that the district manager wanted to stop the students from participating but so far we have not received any formal notification.
â€œUnfortunately the decision would not be beneficial for the majority of the kids who are highly gifted in sports, it is going to be an injustice despite the reasons we have learned to improve the results of the very students.
â€œSports is a very important part of a childâ€™s life to keep them healthy and it is a form of recreation, but above all, we have an opportunity to see these kids make a living out of sports, so taking it away from them is unfair,â€ Makhang said.
Similar sentiments are echoed by, Secretary-General of the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) Mokhosi Mohapi, who posits that government is not doing enough to secure sports as it does almost nothing towards protecting sport by nuilding sporting facilities, but does more to discourage from a young age.
Mohapi further brings attention to fact that physical education and sports have been abolished in schools since the last decade. Schools have for time in memorial contributed a lionâ€™s share of sports personalities in the professional space, thus discouraging early participation and entry into sports basically kills the sector.
He says that by prioritizing sports, government would not only be contributing towards growing sportsâ€™ quality and enhancing the countryâ€™s economic status, but would also be contributing to good health and decreasing the occurrence of disease and ailment.
â€œâ€¦Constructing sport and recreation facilities in each of the Local EDs (Electoral Divisions) would be the biggest contribution towards health maintenance in each of those EDs. Here I am not asking Government to buildâ€¦ durable infrastructure, some indoors but preferably outdoors in light of the pandemic etc. Our folk wouldn’t mind jogging to such facilities, workout and jog back home…The average working class family in Lesotho does not have medical aid. Yes, this is true. However, regular exercise would most definitely reduce the money that Government spends across the borders of Lesotho sending patients who suffer from ailments caused by being sedentary,â€ he says on his Facebook as he encourages people to go into this yearâ€™s general elections to choose those who will grow and protect sport.
â€œI strongly believe that the sport fraternity should start now by joining forces and listen to each party as they present their ‘manifestos’ and only vote for those who are genuine about the sport and recreation industry. For long this industry has been shamed and ridiculed and the time is now opportune for us to show what we can achieve when we decide on the nature of the next dispensationâ€ he says.
Meanwhile, repeated attempts to source comment from the District Education Manager for verification and clarification of the claims were unsuccessful as her mobile was unreachable or rang unanswered.